Cappuccino Quest: Stodels Café Kenilworth In Cape Town, South Africa, Will Serve You A Great Cappuccino

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 10 November 2017
Category: Review Comments View Comments


Deep in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town there's a little plant nursery with a café that serves light meals - and behind the counter is a barista who makes a great cup of coffee.

Cappuccino Quest: Stodels Café Kenilworth In Cape Town, South Africa, Will Serve You A Great Cappuccino

It is one of the wonders of the Cappuccino Quest that sometimes you find really good ones in the most unexpected places (and, conversely, bad ones at establishments that really should know better).

Stodels is one such place. It is a plant nursery in Kenilworth, Cape Town, that opened in 1968 and subsequently has expanded to four more locations in the city's suburbs and surrounding metropolitan area. When it opened there was nothing much around it but now the area has grown substantially with a number of commercial/shopping districts and residential areas filling up the space. Consequently it's not a very big nursery but it is an important part of the history of Cape Town's Southern Suburbs.

A few years ago as part of a revamp and modernisation of the premises a café opened that offers light meals and drinks. It's a small but pleasant spot with natural light that filters through a semi-opaque roof so it always feels bright and happy, even when the weather is bad. I've eaten there a few times just to try out the menu and specials, which change monthly and are offered to members of the garden club (which is free to join). The last time I had a cappuccino was about two years ago and it was ok but not great, which is why I haven't had one since.

Cappuccino Quest: Stodels Café Kenilworth In Cape Town, South Africa, Will Serve You A Great Cappuccino

Last week I had a business meeting at the café so I decided to try the cappuccino again, just out of interest, although I wasn't intending to review it. Even though I was focussed on the meeting I still jotted down some notes, having I learnt from my similar experience at The Twankey Bar a few years ago - I had a fantastic cappuccino during a meeting in which I wasn't paying attention (to the drink) and then, when I went back with team members to conduct an official review, the good barista wasn't on duty and we didn't have as good an experience.

However, because I was pressed for time I took hurried photographs, only initiated a brief conversation with the Stodels Café staff, and forgot to ask some crucial questions. Consequently I also don't know how many baristas work for the café or when the best time would be to go to maximise your chances of getting a good cappuccino.

Of course, the café is just a small part of the experience. The nursery team is lovely and if you like gardening it's a pleasant place to visit to look for new plants, with ample free parking (just make sure you park in the inside parking section, not the extended parking section). It's also open most days until 18:00 and there is, apparently, free Wi-Fi in the café but I've never tried it.

Cappuccino Quest: Stodels Café Kenilworth In Cape Town, South Africa, Will Serve You A Great Cappuccino Opinion

Order: Cappuccino (R27). I think this is the most I've ever paid for a cappuccino in Cape Town, although I've been told that there are a few places that now charge even more. However, it is still better to pay this and get a good cappuccino than to pay R24, which is about the average price at the moment, and get a terrible one. The R27 really does hurt your pocket though and it means I won't visit as often as I would like to. The café also offers a Red Cappuccino (R26).

Service: My cappuccino was served in a ceramic cup with a saucer. It was placed on the table with the handle pointing to the left instead of the right. As the fern latte art had been drawn above the handle it was presented to me sideways. The spoon was placed with the handle pointing towards me. (Ideal service comprises placing the cup with the handle facing right and the spoon behind the cup with the spoon handle facing right so that if you lift the cup with your right hand you won't accidentally knock the spoon. The latte art, which is discouraged, should be oriented correctly within this for the customer. Usually I don't go into so much detail about this, as we don't factor the service into the rating unless something is particularly horrible, but the coffee was good enough that these extra details would have contributed to the overall positive experience.) The cappuccino was served with a small butter biscuit, which was delicious.

Size: This is one of the questions I didn't ask but I estimate that the cup was about 200ml, which is just within our acceptable range, assuming the espresso was 60ml.

Cappuccino Quest: Stodels Café Kenilworth In Cape Town, South Africa, Will Serve You A Great Cappuccino

Foam: Unfortunately a bad fern pattern messed up the light-dark balance of the foam and broke the ring of crema around the edges. I would much prefer to see if the barista can pour wet foam straight with no latte art. The microfoam was about one centimetre thick, which is correct, and it was very sweet - possibly the sweetest foam I've ever tasted - which is also correct as this means that the proteins in the milk weren't broken down by the temperature of the milk being too hot. The microfoam had a velvety texture and degraded very slowly into bubbles, which also indicates that it was well made.

Temperature: The cup was very hot when the cappuccino was served to me so I expected a bad cappuccino as this is a normal early sign that the coffee hasn't been made properly. If the cup is too hot it can affect the foam and destroy the proteins. If the coffee is too hot it's an indication of over extraction of the espresso, which results in bitterness. However the coffee, itself, was the perfect temperature so I don't know how the cup came to be so hot.

Coffee: I presume the cappuccino was made with Origin's Winter Blend 2017 as that's what was on display on the shelf and that, based on the size of the cup, the espresso shot was around 60ml but I have not confirmed this. The espresso was perfect. There was no burnt taste, which has a variety of causes but often comes from the machine not being cleaned or the roaster making a mistake with the beans, so I'm keen to try this coffee again - and quickly - because it has already disappeared off Origin's menu in favour of the Summer Blend 2017 but Stodels Café still has a small supply left. There wasn't a hint of sourness or bitterness so the espresso was extracted properly for just the right amount of time at the right temperature. The only problem I picked up was that it tasted slightly too milky. In my brief conversation with the barista (and I'm embarrassed that I neglected to ask her her name), I found out that she was trained by Origin. This isn't necessarily an indication of quality because I've had Origin coffee at other establishments that's been terrible - and that's down to the baristas, who clearly need more training and followup. In this case, however, the barista at Stodels Café Kenilworth has obviously worked hard to perfect her craft under the guidance of Origin.

Rating: 8/10. I've vacillated a lot for the past week between 7 and 8 because the aesthetics of the foam need improvement but the quality of the foam was excellent. The espresso was expertly pulled. The result was a very good cappuccino. The slightly milky taste was the only downside.

Date Visited: 3 November 2017

Cappuccino Quest: Stodels Café Kenilworth In Cape Town, South Africa, Will Serve You A Great Cappuccino

South Africa
Stodels Café Kenilworth
Address: Doncaster Road, Kenilworth, Cape Town, South Africa
Phone: +27 (0)21 671 9050
Hours: Monday: 10:00 to 18:00; Tuesday to Saturday: 09:00 to 18:00; Sunday/public holiday: 09:00 to 17:00; closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day

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Tags: #cape_town, #cappuccino_quest

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